Tributes to editor who 'challenged the establishment'
Monday's meeting of Sligo County Council was adjourned briefly as a mark of respect to the late Seamus Finn.
Cathaoirleach Cllr Seamus Kilgannon led the tributes saying he was known and respected by many people in the chamber. "He did much more than just report - he'd been involved in the extension of Sligo General Hospital, Sligo Harbour and the Kidney Dialysis Unit, the Lough Gill Tragedy Fund and in mental health," he told the meeting.
"He will be remembered as a skilled journalist and a fair and respected editor," he said extending sympathy to his family and his sister Breege who works for the County Council.
Councillor Rosaleen O'Grady said she was involved in the campaign to get a kidney dialysis unit for Sligo back in the '80's.
"We had a dream that we'd bring a Renal Dialysis Unit to Sligo. From the start of the campaign the support we got from Seamus Finn as Editor was enormous.
"On a weekly basis he dedicated part of his column to letting people know where we were at and how our campaign was getting on - in an age before mobile phones, this support was vital. A local editor giving us a part of his column every week was tremendous," she said.
Cllr O'Grady said many people benefitted as a result of the work of Seamus Finn. "He took every opportunity to promote the town, the restoration of Tobernalt was just an example," she said.
"I had the honour of giving him the Freedom of the Borough to celebrate his contribution to the People of Sligo - he was the last person to get this recognition before the Borough Council was very wrongly removed by Minister Hogan," added Cllr O'Grady.
Cllr Chris MacManus said The Sligo Champion's motto of 'Truth conquers' could nearly be a maxim for Seamus Finn's life. He added that Seamus was a great photographer and had a great passion for taking pictures around Sligo.
Cllr Hubert Keaney said that while he didn't know Seamus Finn personally the one word that kept popping up when talking to people about him was "integrity".
Cllr Margaret Gormley said: "Seamus's ancestors came from Gurteen. He never forgot his roots. He was always proud of the many achievements of South Sligo."
Chief Executive Ciaran Hayes said while he never had the privilege of knowing him, Seamus' reputation preceded him, "particularly his dedication to Sligo."
Cllr Declan Bree said Seamus Finn was a campaigning editor. "In the 1980's when it was far from popular to challenge or question the so called moral authority of the hierarchy and those conservatives who opposed the 'liberal agenda.'
"Seamus Finn fearlessly refused to be deflected in his role as editor of the "Sligo Champion" and to my knowledge the "Champion" was the single and only provincial newspaper in the country to challenge that establishment.
"While all of us involved in political life will on occasions be critical of newspaper editors particularly with regard to the coverage of political issues it can truly be said of Seamus Finn that he was always widely recognised as a journalist of great integrity with a passionate and deep commitment to his native town and county.
"I wish to extend my sympathy to all those colleagues who served with him over the years on the editorial staff of the "Sligo Champion" and most particularly to his sons, his sisters and his extended family."